SOPHIA STEWART SNATCHES VICTORY AT LAST
She’s popularly known as the Mother of the Matrix and wrote the box office blockbusters, ‘The Matrix’ and ‘The Terminator’ that have won four Oscars, grossed over an eye-popping $25 billion and still yielding revenue, internationally, ranking them among the most artistically outstanding and financially rewarding franchises in the entire history of Hollywood.
But Sophia Stewart, the African-American, original writer and creator of the characters that made those box-office hits, was bilked out of her ingenious, original works by Warner Brothers, leading to a prolonged litigation that took 30 years to resolve. Finally, the case ended in her favour and she was awarded $2.5 billion in what has remained Hollywood’s biggest lawsuit.
Described as a “child prodigy, prolific writer, poet and creative genius”, Stewart obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, with minors in law and psychology. While still in college, she also studied under the guidance of many distinguished masters and celebrated authors and writers, among whom were Max Segal, of the New York Times; publisher, editor, essayist and critic, Emile Capouya, as well as Broadway playwright, Paul Cherry, among others.
She also worked with Oscar winning, film documentary producer, Perry Miller Adato, whilst a television intern, at the Public Broadcasting Station, WNET 13.
BLACK BOY WASTED BY THE LAW, EXONERATED AFTER 70 YEARS
George Junius Stinney Jr., was just an innocent 14 year-old, black boy, living his poor life and minding his business in his small neighbourhood, like any other teenager, when trouble came crashing its way into his world.
Deep, in the segregated, Jim Crow South town of Alcolu, in South Carolina, the bodies of two young white girls, Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 8, had been found dumped in a water-logged ditch, their heads, brutally bashed in, with a railroad spike. This was in March, 1944 and young George and his little sister were said to have been the last people to have seen the young girls, alive.
Police raided the home of the Stinneys, while both husband and wife were away. They found George and his older brother, Johnnie. They handcuffed and took them away, as their little sister watched from her hiding place in the family’s chicken coop, behind the house.
Although the authorities later released Johnnie, George, his younger brother, later paid the supreme price for a crime he did not commit. The 14 year-old was questioned alone, in a small room, with neither his parents, nor an attorney, around. Police later claimed the boy had confessed to killing the two girls because he wanted to have sex with them.
Subsequently, he was railroaded into a two-hour trial, with still no parental presence allowed him. It took an all-white jury exactly 10 minutes of deliberation, to convict George of first-degree murder, on April 24, 1944. He was condemned to die by the electric chair, yet there was no written record of a confession, with “few or no witnesses”, called by the defence. At the time, 14 years was the age of criminal liability and to make matters worse for the hapless youth, his equally white lawyer and a local political figure, did not bother to appeal.
Born on October 21, 1929, George Junius Stinney Jr. was the youngest person to be sentenced to death in the 20th century. Despite the obvious frame-up, the lad maintained his innocence to the end, even on the execution chair. Without his parents or siblings, around, to comfort him, he faced death, alone. The barely 5-foot tall youngster had to sit on books to reach the headpiece of the electric chair. When the powerful currents surged through his frail body, his convulsions knocked down the mask, exposing the tear-drenched face of an innocent boy that was being murdered by the so-called law of the land.
It took another 70 years after George Stinney’s execution, before the tortured conscience of the state of South Carolina finally got some relief from guilt of the young boy’s state murder. New facts that emerged from the case, following the work of independent investigations, across the decades, prompted judge, Carmen Mullen, to vacate his conviction in 2014.
Said George’s small sister, Amie Ruffner, then 77, of her late brother’s conviction, when the inquiry opened, once again, “[The police] were looking for someone to blame it on, so they used my brother as a scapegoat.”
DARK SECRET OF KFC, THE FINGER-LICKING GLOBAL FRANCHISE
KFC may be a multi-billion dollar, global franchise today, but it started its long journey from the humble beginnings of an African-American woman’s recipe.
The story goes that the KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) was founded by an American entrepreneur, Colonel Harland Sanders, who began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. He was reported to have “identified the potential of the restaurant franchising concept”. Thus, the very first KFC franchise opened in Utah, in 1952. By 2015, KFC had established 22,621 locations, worldwide, with revenue worth US$23 billion by 2013.
Colonel Harland Sanders and his look-alike, global franchise logo.
However, there is another story about the dark side of the actual beginnings of the KFC chain. According to reports, Colonel Sanders actually “stole” his famous Fried Chicken Recipe from an African-American woman, a Mrs. Childress, whom he later paid US$1,200 for the winning recipe. Very little is known about Mrs. Childress, other than she died in penury.